Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Brian Crashman

I know, it's an easy and cheap headline, probably not worthy of the thoughts of someone who's as smart as I like to think I am, but I'm sticking with it.

By now, you've heard that Yankee general manager Brian Cashman got hurt while skydiving.  Quoting John Harper in his article for yesterday's Daily News:

Yankee GM Brian Cashman broke his right fibula and dislocated his right ankle on his second parachute jump Monday with the Golden Knights of the U.S. Army and will underwent successful surgery Monday with Dr. Dominic Carreira at the Broward Health Medical Center....

Cashman’s jump, from a plane based out of Homestead Air Force Base, is the latest in several stunts he has performed to raise awareness for various causes, this one in support of the Wounded Warrior Project.

The Wounded Warrior Project is a nonprofit organization whose stated mission is to "honor and empower wounded warriors" of the United States Armed Forces.  Their motto is, "The greatest casualty is being forgotten."  Here's their website.
Cashman is well-paid by the Yankees.  He could have written the WWP a check.  He could have talked the Steinbrenner Brothers, Lonn Trost, Randy Levine, Joe Girardi and all the players into doing the same.  It would have done the WWP more good, and he wouldn't have gotten hurt.

Cashman is 45 years old -- he'll be 46 on July 3.  This makes him 3 1/2 years older than I am.  Around this same time, some men go through a "midlife crisis." (Sometimes it's hyphenated as "mid-life.") Some men try to spice up their marriage.  Others leave it.  Others do things that get their wives to end it for them.  These crises have cliches: Guy gets a much younger mistress, or buys a flashy sports car, or goes on an adventurous vacation (like the guys in City Slickers kept doing until the trip to the ranch straightened them out).

Cashman's midlife crisis has taken some weird turns.  His wife Mary filed for divorce a year ago, and they had apparently been separated for a year before that.  The day before she filed prosecutors charged Louise Neathway with stalking and extortion, over an affair she claimed to have had with Brian.
In December 2010, around the time that Mary left him, Brian started rappelling down skyscrapers.  As the Wounded Warriors might have said in their pre-discharge life, "Whiskey Tango Foxtrot?"
His first rappel was 350 feet down a building in Stamford, Connecticut, not far from his Darien home.  Stamford has 122,000 people, making it roughly the same size as Elizabeth, New Jersey.  Each is also on a major commuter rail line: Elizabeth on New Jersey Transit's Northeast Corridor and North Jersey Coast lines, Stamford on Metro-North's New Haven Line.  And Elizabeth is a county seat (Union County), while Stamford is not (Connecticut dropped its county government system in 1960, but Bridgeport is still the County's court center).  Yet Elizabeth doesn't have skyscrapers, while Stamford does.  I don't know the explanation, and it doesn't really matter here.

What matters is, What was Cashman doing rappelling 350 feet? To give you an idea of how far that is, a football field, counting the end zones, is 120 yards, thus 360 feet.  So that's almost the length of a football field.  It's also greater than the distance down the foul lines at Yankee Stadium (318 to left field, 314 to right).
His equipment could have failed.  He could have fallen.  He could have died.
At the time, Cashman said, "It's just my alter ego.  It helps me get into the mode.  There's a side of me that likes to have fun."
"Into the mode"? I think he meant "Into the mood."
He also claimed at that time to have gone "ziplining" on vacation in Costa Rica.  He also discussed climbing the Space Needle on a Yankee roadtrip to Seattle and the CN Tower on a Yankee roadtrip to Toronto.
The Space Needle is 605 feet high.  Nearly double the building he rappelled down in Stamford.  The CN Tower? Nearly 3 times the Space Needle, at 1,815 feet.
So far, he hasn't done those damnfool things.  But he has continued to rappel, even talking Stamford resident and former Met and Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine (who's a lot older) into doing one with him.
In today's Subway Squawkers, Lisa Swan suggests that Cashman is "a complete knucklehead." Clearly, having written for the New York Daily News, its terminology has rubbed off on her.  I half-expect her to one day report that Cashman is "canoodling" with a "celebutante." And I more than half-expect Cashman to actually be seen doing that.
Cashman: It was an incredible experience. I’m really into doing things I haven’t done before. I always say that’s called living. I don’t want to wake up when I’m older and say, ‘I really wish I’d done X, Y, or Z.’ You get a lot of opportunities when you’re the GM of the Yankees.
Swan: Gee, and I thought it was all about the charity. No, kids, it's all about his self-aggrandizement. What's next, trying bath salts, because he hasn't done that before, either?
And really, if he wants to do something he hasn't done before, how about drafting a pitcher who becomes a long-term ace for the Yanks? Or making a good trade in which the Yankees get the better end of the deal without overpaying? ...
Jeter got hurt playing all-out to help his team, not being a dumbass to promote himself. And he also had the offseason to recover. Our idiot GM will have to do this while doing his day job, too. Good grief.
When Lisa starts with the Peanuts lines (when good things happen she says she "does the Snoopy Dance"), it's usually in reaction to something big.  In this case, not good.  Can "Auuuugh!" or "I can't stand it!" or "My stomach hurts" be far behind?
At the rate Cashman is going, sick to our stomachs is more like it.
She closes by calling cashman a "dolt" for comparing himself to an actual "wounded warrior," citing her father, a World War II paratrooper.
As far as I know, no member of my family has ever served in combat: My father was an Army engineer during the Vietnam era, one grandfather was a clerk with General Patton's units in North Africa and Italy, and I've been led to believe the other grandfather never left the States during his World War II service.  I don't think any of their parents served in World War I, and before that the records do not appear to exist anymore, but most of my ancestors probably still in Europe until the 1890s.
Lots of people involved with baseball have also been involved with war.  Five major leaguers died in World War I, not counting Christy Mathewson who got a lungful of poison gas in a training exercise accident and died a few years later as a result; and Grover Cleveland Alexander, whose hearing was wrecked, epilepsy began, and drinking worsened during his time in the trenches.  Two men who briefly played in the majors died in World War II, not counting Yogi Berra who was part of the Allied invasion force on D-Day (days after turning 19, mind you), Warren Spahn who was in combat at Anzio, and Bob Feller who was a Navy gunner.  A "cup of coffee" player was shot down and killed in Korea, and Ted Williams nearly made it two KIAs in that manner but landed alive, and, like Alexander, his hearing was ruined. No ballplayers were killed in Vietnam, but one was wounded and lost his World Series ring over there.
Brian Cashman is no more a "wounded warrior" than I am a .300 hitter.
When I hit my late 30s, I didn't do any "midlife crisis" stuff.  I had no wife to leave (and still don't, and wouldn't if I did), I can't afford a sports car, and unless you count just walking down streets and riding the Subway in New York (which I was already doing), I wasn't attempting any death-defying acts.  The closest I've come, I suppose, is starting to watch international club soccer in New York bars, learning the songs and chants, bantering with opposing fans.  Contrary to the hooligan stereotype, on only one occasion in 5 years has a fight even seemed remotely possible (and the situation quickly simmered down, and nothing happened).
Brian Cashman's midlife crisis could get him killed.
Instead of being sad, some of us will be saying, "We told you so."

1 comment:

Lisa Swan said...

Thanks for the shout out, Mike. And my brother reposted this article on his Facebook page!